Saturday, April 5, 2008


Permaculture. Permaculture is a combination of the words "permanent agriculture". I had heard the term before and understood that it had something to do with sustainability, but didn't really know what it was. It seems that Bill Mollison is generally given credit with coming up with this style of agriculture. Through his studies of forests he came up with a way to work with the lay of the land in the same manner and create a sustainable lifestyle.

You don't till the land into nice tidy rows. In fact his land is far from tidy. It is a series of terraces subtly sculpted down a hill designed to slow the movement of water in the soil as it moves down the hill. No mowing for him. He mulches down his unwanted weeds. The mulch reduces competition from weeds, reduces water evaporation, and decomposes to replenish nutrients. Plants that provide food are widely planted. Nut and fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetables, grains, flowers etc... Basically a forest edge with understudy plants along clearings are created. Sun loving veggies and such are planted in the clearings. The land is planted so that even if you leave it and return, it will still be producing edibles. Chickens and other animals are allowed to run free and roost in the trees. Of course no pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used. The diversity of plants and the accumulation of organic matter is enough to keep the soil rich and balance out the populations of beneficial insects and pests.

This really fascinates me. It's not only a sustainable way to live, it is also in the long run a much less labor intensive way to live. In some ways I have already been following this form of agriculture. I intend to learn more about this and implement more of it in the way I plant my garden. Unfortunately in our perfection driven society gardening like this might not be looked upon with favor. I do believe that "Path to Freedom" (see links) shows how sustainability can be successful in a neighborhood. Youtube also has a three part series on Bill Mollison and permaculture.

On another note, The garden show at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens was wonderful and so was the farmer's market on Magazine street. Look at all my loot!!!
Four old garden climbing roses (for the chicken coop), a guava tree, some local honey and a whole flat of organic local tomatoes. Yummy. Last but not least, my prize!!! I found a bamboo that I had been looking for. I first saw it in the "Amazon" exhibit at the Audubon zoo. It will grow 50 feet tall and will make stalks at least five to six inches in diameter. It is a clumping variety and will spread between ten to fifteen feet. Gorgeous! Besides you can also eat bamboo shoots. So it will work well in my permaculture attempt! :)
Close up of my beautiful tomato find.


Betsy said...

Ok, I struggled through, but I read your blog on permaculture..and I understood it!
My father in law gave me some bamboo last summer, and i have it planted on the side of my house. He said it will take off and take over if not watched...I will let you know.
Hope you are feeling better....


Egghead said...

Those tomatoes look so good. I can't wait until the farms open around here. There is nothing better than fresh produce from our local farmers while waiting for our things to ripen. I always heard that bamboo will take over and is hard to control. I don't have any but there are plenty of people around here that do. I love the looks of it.